How an industry trip to Kaunas inspired a musical composition

This from a truly inspiring trip to Kaunas, Lithuania’s second city — which is actively promoting its wealth of locations to international film producers.

My news story courtesy of Vilnius International Film Festival…. they should have my short video of Bill playing ‘Eva’s Three Notes’ up on its site soon…although actually, it is now (April 5) up on YouTube courtesy of my Ukrainian colleague Larysa Artuigina…

For composer William Goldstein Monday’s visit to Kaunas to showcase the city’s benefits to filmmakers was an emotional experience.Mr Goldstein was among a group of a couple of dozen producers, directors and film guests of the festival’s industry sidebar “Meeting Point – Vilnius”, who were being shown the city by staff from the Kaunas Film Centre, which helps bring producers to the city.

Mr Goldstein — Bill to his friends — is in Vilnius for a screening of Latvian director Maris Martinsons’ “OKI in the Middle of the Ocean” in which he appears alongside festival jury member, Japanese actress and director, Kaori Momoi. But he had Kaunus on his mind.

“My grandfather was born here in 1874 and my great-grandfather in 1840,” said Bill who was raised in New Jersey, USA. The composer, who has more created scores for more than 50 film and television shows, including MGM’s 1980s series “Fame” and “Miracle Walker”, recorded 40 albums and in the Motown hall of fame under classical artists can be found between Michael Jackson and Marvin Gaye, was keen to do some research into his family tree. That proved a challenge: Jews livings in the Kovno Gubernias it was known under Russian rule until Lithuania gained independence in 1918, were not required to have surnames until 1804, making research beyond that date impossible.

But for one of the world’s only practitioners of “instant composition” Bill was able to draw musical inspiration from the city and a beautiful local muse. 

Guests that included Ukrainian director and film school tutor Larysa Artiugina and director and screenwriter, (“White Shadow” screening in VIFF’s Critics’ Choice) Noaz Deshe, saw the city’s old town, mediaeval castle, Czarist era Fort No. 7, modernist cathedral, quaint funicular railway and other sites before a late lunch at the splendid Kaunas Garrsion Officers Club, built in 1937.

There, Bill chanced upon a Steinway grand piano, made in London in 1936, and couldn’t resist testing its keys.
After playing a short piece, Bill caught the eye of an innocent muse: festival industry coordinator Eva Brazdzionyte.

“Give me three notes,” Bill said.

Eva obliged and with those three notes Bill plunged into an absolutely original, instant composition, before an utterly spellbound audience. 

“I ask people to pick three notes because that keeps us in the moment; I take an idea – three notes — and develop it into a composition. It is something I’ve been doing since I was a boy.”
The name of that instant composition?

When asked, Bill smiled and said: “Eva’s Three Notes.”

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